Saturday, July 7, 2012

An angry rant about how we treat each other.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to find this comic, titled "Wrong Century" from 9Gag.com positively plastered all over facebook:


I get the jist, okay? In another era, she wouldn't be mocked for her size, she would have been celebrated by artists. Fine. 

However.

Take closer look at the painting. It's clearly meant to be this:


This painting is The Rape of The Daughters of Leucippus, by Peter Paul Rubens. While I suppose one could argue that "rape" also means to abduct by forceful means, in the legend the daughters are then married to their abductors, so I'm going to just say that it's safe to assume these women are going to be raped in both senses of the word. It's not a longshot here, there's a huge naked man ripping their clothes off.

So, what is that cartoon above telling us? That this fat girl is looking wistfully at the painting, wishing she were desirable enough to be raped? I really fucking hope that was not the intention of the male artist who drew this comic. I think more likely it's a visible sign that rape culture is alive and well in the West. The fact is, there are literally dozens of other Rubens paintings with women of size in them that contain, in the words of my friend Greg, "99% less rape." So why did the artist choose this particular picture? Who knows, but it's a real bad choice.

This comic has been burning up the Facebook today as a fat positive statement, but it's really, really not. It has also sparked the usual internet fat discussions. Everything from "Hurrr durrr fatties," to "Marilyn Monroe was fat," and I'm here to tell you, as a Marilyn fan, I've seen all her movies and she weren't never fat. Bloated in the face, at times, but not fat (and if you are the person who made a Marilyn comment on my facebook, please note, this is not directed at you, personally, but at the entire myth that has sprung up re: Marilyn's fatness).

But does it matter? Does Marilyn's size or the fact that fat women were once celebrated in art matter? No, not a damned bit. Because no one has a time machine (except for The Doctor). Ruminating on the sensibilities of the past will not magically drag our social standards back there. Sure, people during the Renaissance liked big butts and they could not lie, but they also liked stuff like torture and trading women like baseball cards. And people in Marilyn's generation, sure, they might have liked a Coke-bottle figure, but they weren't real into black people living and working in their part of town. Why do we want to emulate those times? Just so people don't feel bad about being fat? That's bullshit, because fat people were just as maligned in the '60's as now, and it might have been awesome to be a fat chick in the middle ages, but probably only marginally more than just being a chick in the middle ages, and that would still be pretty shitty. None of that stuff washes with me.

I'm tired of women on both sides of the fat vs. skinny battle. I'm so tired of them. "At least I'm not a stick!" No, but look at what you're priding yourself on. You're priding yourself on having a body type you find more desirable than another body type. It's the same thing a thin woman who says, "At least I'm not a fattie!" is doing, and newsflash, you both look rude and judgmental when you do it. You don't get a free pass because you're fat and your feelings are hurt by the media. You don't get to just openly mock other women because you're too insecure about the size of your jeans.

I know that's hard. Believe me, I know it. I have resorted to calling people boney. Hell, I've done it on this blog. I've made fun of women for being too thin. You know why I did it? Because I hated myself. Then I sat there and watched someone critique the way my cousin D-Rock eats. D-Rock has a metabolic disorder that leaves her drastically underweight no matter how many calories she takes in, and she's often embarrassed when people call attention to how much she eats, or the fact that she eats like a starving person. She can't help it. She really is starving. And I thought, as I heard someone tell her that they could hate her for the amount she's capable of eating, and that they wished they had the same disease she has, that if this was being said to a fat person, everyone would call this person out.

Fat girls of the world, knock this shit off. Seriously. Stop defending your body by degrading other women. Like I said, I know it's hard, but you can train yourself out of it, if you'd get your head out of your ass for a moment and realize that thin people have feelings, they don't have magical self-esteem armor by virtue of being not-fat. And if you can't grasp this concept, then remember that every time you mock someone for being thin, you're justifying all those assholes who mock people for being fat, because it's turnabout/fairplay and all that.

Finally, I'm sick to death of the notion that not-fat people on the internet are just concerned for the health and well-being of us fatties. First of all, "Burn more calories than you consume! It's math! It's not hard!" is not new information to most fat people. We understand how losing weight works, and we understand that food choices we make might be bad, and it doesn't matter, because people who get on message boards and comments sections and Facebook and say shit like, "It's not a matter of looks, it's about health!" are lying out their chocolate starfishes. It's not about health. Fat vs. fit vs. skinny is never about health, it's about, "You have a body type that makes me uncomfortable for some reason. If I admit to that, then I'm admitting to a form of prejudice, and rather than own it and confront it, I want to seem like Mother Theresa to fat people, nurturing them to health with my own loving kindness." Shove your loving kindness, because we don't want it here. The same goes for any fat girl who concern trolls pictures of celebs saying, "Angelina Jolie should eat a sandwich!" Guess what? Angelina Jolie has all the money in the world. She can afford all the sandwiches. Ham, turkey and swiss on rye, peanut butter and jelly, bitch can buy them ALL. If she wants a sandwich, she'll have a damned sandwich, and when she's licking her fingers clean she'll still be thin and rich and successful and you'll still be hating yourself, no matter what size you are.

Again, this is thinking that you can train yourself to adopt. I once had a letter printed in People magazine where I said I wanted to buy Tara Reid a ham. Because apparently, Tara Reid's thinness was an affront to my fatness, and I needed that shit stopped, like, today. But you know what? I continued to be fat, even after saying that mean thing, and Tara Reid is still skinny. Calling her too skinny? It didn't stop guys from thinking she was hot, and it damned sure didn't make them find me hot.

I propose that we stop the thin vs. fat vs. fit nonsense and do something radical: treat other people the way we would like to be treated. I know, I know, it's a totally foreign concept. But before you type out that letter to People about Tara Reid's unacceptable hip bones, think about how you would feel if someone was judging your body that way. And don't give me that bullshit about how you wouldn't care, because at least you'd be skinny. You would care, because you're a person with warm and squishy feelings in you.

While you're at it, treat yourself the way you would treat other people. If you wouldn't call another woman a cow or a pig, don't call yourself that. And if you would call another woman a cow or a pig, see directly above. And don't make self-deprecating jokes, thinking that if you say it first it will be more bearable than if someone else said it, because no one is going to say it. This is another hard one that I struggled with, but it took me a really long time to realize that the only person in the room obsessed with my fatness was me. No one else was going to bring it up, and when I brought it up, even as a joke, it just displayed how insecure I was and made everyone else uncomfortable.

Let's just treat people as individuals with individual bodies, the sizes and shapes of which are not our property to assign value. Let's stop worrying about the amount of sandwiches they are or aren't eating. And if you're not a doctor, speaking directly to your patient? Don't give out fucking health advice and expect to met with anything other than the cold, hard bitch-slap of reality when people call you out.

And it should go without saying that if you're a cartoonist, don't draw a comic where a fat girl stands in an art gallery wishing she lived in an era where rapists would be all up on her. I thought that would go somewhat without saying, but...

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I may be snarky at skinny women at times. Hell I even get snarky over the models that are shown as "full figured". But I know that its just my own insecurities aboit being overweight myself. I could have changed this years ago. Now would be much, much harder though. I got sick four years ago. Turned out to be Fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, CFS, arthritis and that doesn't even begin to cover the mental issues that trot along hand-in-hand. My BIL has a metaboloc disorder as well. I've watched as he demolished two large big mac meals and a hot fudge sunday like it was his last meal. I'll admit that it made me a little queasy and it was a bit like watching a train wreck... distirbing and compelling at the same time. But he couldn't help it. We are so much more than what our outsides show. Its time for us to stop using dress sizes as a mwasure of a person's worth.

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